By Patrick Fahey ’18
The College of Arts & Science’s first Career and Networking Week was an event-packed week geared at getting students in the college actively thinking about and working toward their future careers.
During the week, more than 250 Arts & Sciences students participated in the events, and more than 50 alumni returned to Athens for the networking reception and panels offered throughout the week.
Matthew McCullough, a senior studying Sociology, attended several events offered throughout the week.
“Overall, I gained some very useful tips through the Career and Networking Week and feel more confident moving forward,” McCullough said.
“I didn’t have the highest expectation going in, but looking back on the week, I am very glad I went to a lot of the events,” said Jacob Ballas, a junior studying Anthropology. “If I hadn’t gone I would be kicking myself for missing out on a great experience. There are more aspects to getting a job than just doing good work, and learning how to present yourself is also very important. There seem to be fewer opportunities specifically tailored for students in Arts & Sciences, and I hope they do it again next year.”
I, too, attended many of the events as a senior studying Anthropology and Visual Communications. It was nice to see the College of Arts & Sciences offering networking events similar to those that I had participated in for my communications major. I was interested to see how a college with subjects as varied as in Arts & Sciences was going to handle the diversity, but I think it was this array of people that made the events so constructive.
I learned a lot about what others with a liberal arts education comparable to my own could accomplish out of college with that training in hand. I did not connect with the Anthropology alumni at an event and still was able to meet a lot of motivating people with sound career advice.
Below are my and fellow students’ thoughts on a handful of events held throughout the week.
The week kicked off Jan. 30 with two meetings with Dr. Robert Frank, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Imants Jaunarajs, Assistant Dean of Students for the Career and Leadership Development Center. The discussion, titled “Maximizing Your Arts & Sciences Degree,” helped students learn the unique benefits of their Arts & Sciences degrees and ways to steer them into a dream career.
“I went to the workshop on maximizing an A&S degree because I felt a little insecure about job availability,” said McCullough, who plans to attend graduate school and ultimately to do professional research. During the workshop, he realized the many skills his liberal arts education has taught him outside of his specific major.
“I was surprised to see that Arts & Sciences degrees give students valuable transferable skills such as writing, project management, teamwork, and critical thinking. Because of this, an A&S degree is valuable for a job, even if it has nothing to do with your major.”
Nick Albright, a junior in Anthropology, also attended the event.
“I’d say my biggest takeaway was that companies are interested in the exact skills that are provided by an Arts & Sciences degree,” Albright said.
Ballas also learned of the usefulness of a liberal arts education and got advice on how to further these lessons on his own.
“I didn’t know what to expect going in, but my curiosity made me go,” Ballas said. “There are certain skills that you are taught, and there are certain skills that you have to develop yourself. Even if you have all these skills, you always have to keep growing and learning. The all-inclusive approach of a liberal arts degree prepares for this sort of learning.”
Students interested in getting and being successful in an internship attended this panel to learn about the process from others with firsthand experience. The panelists, current students, shared their experiences with getting and completing internships as undergrads.
McCullough, who is looking for an internship this summer, attended the panel to gain insight into the process.
“The panel of students who did summer internships had some great, seemingly simple advice. They also had some incredible stories of their experience,” McCullough said. “Having students instead of professionals was a lot more personal. Instead of having a bunch of employers saying, ‘this is what you need to do to impress us,’ there was a bunch of students saying, ‘this is what we did and this is how it changed us.’”
“The students also said that Bobcats are everywhere and we look out for each other. Overall, I’d say that having student panelists made me feel assured that there are others just like me who are trying to get experience,” McCullough added.
Students and Alumni came together on Feb. 2, for a night of networking and making connections. The event was designed to be a chance for students to practice the valuable skill of networking in a stress-free environment and to find useful allies in professional fields. Students were equipped with personalized business cards provided by the College of Arts & Sciences to help them reconnect with alumni after the event.
“I liked the freedom of being able to walk around and meet different people,” Ballas said. “Even if it didn’t pertain to my major, I was able to still have a good conversation with them and pass out a lot of business cards. If the conversation didn’t help toward furthering my career, it did help my social and networking skills.”
Amna Durrani, a senior in Psychology, attended the reception. While Durrani did not talk to any psychology alumni, she did connect with several other alumni and got insight into possible careers she had not before considered. One conversation stuck out in Durrani’s mind.
“It made me think about going into a new field—maybe psychological forensics. I’ve always liked Criminal Minds, but this talk made me think about joining the field,” Durrani said.
She also met with several members of AmeriCorps and was interested to hear about the work it does.
“I met a few alumni in AmeriCorps, and if I wanted to take a break between grad school and undergrad, I’d do it if it helped boost my resume. Before I had heard about [AmeriCorps] but I didn’t know much about it,” Durrani said.
One of the alumni in AmeriCorps that Darrani talked to was Daniel Harrington, a 2016 graduate in Environmental Geology. This was also the first networking event he attended since graduation and was actively looking to recruit interns for an urban farm in Columbus to help an area with no access to healthy food. He was looking to get the word out about the AmericaCorps program and received a couple of business cards from students.
Like many of the other students, McCullough found the reception useful in growing his networking skill set.
“This was of high value to me because talking to people is difficult, and this atmosphere was intended just for the purpose of practicing talking to people and making connections,” McCullough said. “Making connections and building a network are difficult but essential skills in a competitive market. I also had a photo taken for LinkedIn, which is important because a simple but good-looking picture speaks more than a selfie.”
Students who attended were offered the opportunity to have a professional portrait taken for their LinkedIn profile. 53 students had their picture taken and received the photo in email.
“People who never had professional headshots now do,” Michael Tedesco, an IT support specialist for the College of Arts & Sciences who helped facilitate the shoot. “It was a nice, free service, and the students got them immediately in their email. The whole process took only about five minutes.”
Students were offered a one-on-one interview to simulate a professional interview process. Afterward, students were given feedback on their performance and tips for future interviews.
“I’ve had little experience with interviews in my life so far, but coming out of this, my nerves about the whole process have subsided. I wasn’t aware that the CLDC offered these more frequently during the semester, and I’m glad this week brought awareness about what the CLDC offers,” Ballas said.
Six alumni who graduated with Sociology or Sociology-Criminology degrees were joined by students on Friday, February 3rd to discuss life post-graduation and give advice to undergraduates.
Monica Davis, a freshman in Communication Studies, enjoyed the panel despite not majoring in Sociology.
“It was interesting how, even though they’re all Sociology alumni, they talked about things that all students can relate to, regardless of their major. The panelists talked a lot about networking and forming relationships now, so that way we can get better jobs in the future,” Davis said. “I thought that the panel would just be about Sociology and Anthropology, but it wasn’t, and I really liked the fact that I could relate to what they were saying even though I’m a Communication Studies major.”
Five anthropology alumni returned to campus to share their experiences after graduating and answer questions from students about their experiences in college and the professional field.
The alumni came from a variety of disciplines within anthropology, and all went on to pursue very different careers. I found the vast diversity of available careers that fellow anthropology majors ended up in very interesting. The field is one that spans a huge variety of topics, with themes ranging from biological to cultural, and hearing how an education in anthropology prepared them for their diverse careers was extremely reassuring. They discussed how the discipline prepared them not just in anthropology fields but in all aspects of their jobs.
Ballas attended the panel to learn about possible career paths in anthropology and meet with past alumni.
“I liked how they haven’t forgotten about their experience here at OHIO and were able to give advice to calm the nerves of anyone with an anthropology major. There aren’t just two options for those with an anthropology bachelor’s, but the degree is very flexible. They said it’s going to be rough out there, but persistence pays off.”
After the panel, several students, including myself and anthropology professor Dr. Nancy Tatarek, Associate Professor of Anthropology, joined the alumni for dinner at Stephen’s On Court. We casually discussed what we hoped to do after college and the organizations and activities we are currently involved with. They shared advice and stories from their lives and even convinced me to get a GIS certificate before graduating— something I had been on the fence about for some time.
One of the best pieces of advice I received was to ask professionals in the fields what they regret most about not doing in college. It was this advice that finally convinced me to go after a GIS certificate, for most archaeologists (the profession I am most interested in) I’ve talked to all say they regret not knowing more about GIS, and I would hate to regret not taking advantage of the program while still an undergrad.
“It was very comforting with how casual the conversation was at dinner,” Ballas said. “It wasn’t like I was being interviewed for a job, but it was more a casual conversation about our futures and time at Ohio University.”